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Meeting will teach Farmington parents about drugs, signs of abuse

New trends in teen drug use is the topic for a free parenting seminar scheduled for Monday in Lakeville.

The seminar, "Current Trends in Youth Drug Use: What Every Parent Needs to Know" is jointly offered by the community education departments of Farmington and Lakeville.

The seminar will feature keynote speaker Carol Falkowski, who is one of 21 researchers in the nation who participate in a drug abuse monitoring network for the National Institute on Drug Abuse. She'll address the latest trends in youth drug use and talk about signs and symptoms of drug use in teens.

Farmington High School chemical health counselor Lisa Lippold has been working with her counterparts in Lakeville to set up the seminar. This is the third year the two school districts have worked together to offer this type of a session, she said. Last year's topic was the role chemical use plays in mental illnesses.

Dakota County attorney James Backstrom will also speak about prevention of drug use in the schools. Backstrom addresses prevention because early drug use by teens often leads to more serious crimes as they grow older, Lippold said.

"It will be a really great way for parents to get information on what to look for as far as chemical use," Lippold said.

She will join Backstrom on a panel of local experts for a question and answer session during the event. Farmington school resource officer Andrew VanDorn will also participate on the panel, along with the SRO from Lakeville, officer Andrew Hentges, and Carol Ackley, the coordinator of diversion programs for Dakota County.

While VanDorn said he hasn't seen an alarming trend of drug use in Farmington High School, he has dealt with a few cases of possession of marijuana in the school. His role on the panel will be to talk about the consequences and charges students face when they are caught.

The past two have been held in Farmington, but this year's will be held in Lakeville. Past seminars have drawn audiences of about 100 people, Lippold said. Lippold is hoping that this year's event will draw that many, if not more.

"I think we have some pretty amazing people who are coming to speak," she said. "Sometimes people might not be fully aware of what's going on, so we just want to make them aware of what's out there."

Current Trends in Youth Drug Use: What Every Parent Needs to Know will be take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m., at Kenwood Trail Middle School in Lakeville. It is free and open to the public.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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